I’ve died

Which means that I now qualify for life.

Earlier today I took a short break from working on hulks, to try and notch up a couple thousand points on MUD1, having lost my character at the rank of Enchanter (it’s a rank, not a class, in MUD1) and his ~25,000 points on Tuesday night when I lost my network connection (The irony of my trip down memory lane being spoiled by a CTHL…)

I’d just about done gathering this and that, when it started to rain (uh, in the game). I had been about to go sailing, but the waters around The Land are lethal when its raining. So I decided to finish one last quest before logging. And then I was dead.

Another player, of similar rank, had logged in and basically found the miniscule gameworld stripped bare. So she’d used the force command to make me leap into the sea, dumping my hoarded goods where I’d stood. No loss of character. A polite spanking.

Not settling for this, I decided to do something similar. Unfortunately, I’m not that familiar with MUD and so when I summoned her into a trap, I failed to pull off the trap, and ducked out and quit as quickly as possible. No harm, I figured. No deaths on either side.

So I logged back in to try and make back a few points doing peon work. At this point I’m rather nervous. The other player has The Wand. A weapon capable of destroying most people/mobs in a single action. I’ve already come to think this was an incredibly bad idea on Richard’s part, because I’ve lost a half dozen characters to a guy who gets his kicks going invis and disintegrating you with not a whiff of forewarning.

But for a brief time, it seems a settlement has been reached. I’m bumed out because I’m going to end my 10 minute session down a whole lot of points, and they’re probably bumed out because I cleared a chunk of the game.

Suddenly I’m summoned. And attacked. I flee, and quit. Now I’m annoyed. I take a moment to compose myself, devise a strategy and head back in. I prepare myself, I summon the culprit and engage, only to find that apparently the inability to cast spells is limited to me. (Maybe its one of the artefacts she had, but she managed to steal an item from my inventory, something I have *never* managed in my history of mudding, not even in my *own* little instances of mud).

So I decided to execute my plan, and timed it wrong. I was unable to move, and although I managed to undo that spell on a second try), the split second longer it took me to try and flee was too late.

Character gone, and the thing I just hit enter to try and flee said “No” to the retention of my name. ARGH. I have to reregister.

I’ve had a lot of experience at debatable PvP encounters, and keeping my cool. But I charge back in there with a second persona I’d built up when I couldn’t remember my main password, and get that one killed too.

Now this is the point where I’m really glad I’ve played MUD2 around this time too.

MUD1 is terribly, terribly dated. It has a sub-zork parser. “Unlock door” has to be entered as “unlock door with key”. Typing “unlock door” generally responds with a prompt along the lines of “please type unlock door with key”. GRR.

And its also a very poor multi-player game design. MUD1 has to reset regularly because the primary mechanism of scoring points for lower levels is to gather up the valuables lying around the “newbie area” and drop them in the swamp where they dissapear. Mobs don’t respawn until the game resets. Imagine the whole of Everquest1 reduced just to West Commonlands, with mob respawns turned off, and a variety of EQ2-style ?s to pick up, each with only a single spawn, and the quests only doable once, by one player, until everyone logs out and lets it reset.

It does, however, have its strengths. The original MUD1 was, according to Dr Bartle’s “AI and Computer Games”, or at least the hype he used to sell it to BT as a possible educational tool, as to create a system that would put humans and AI into the same research sandbox, without having to pay the humans to participate ;)

MUD2, by contrast, is significantly more of a game. The parser understands far more human terms (“drop the smallest treasure into the big box on the table”), the mobiles (npcs) are quite canny, better even, behaviourally, than many npcs in some of todays mmos, and the world is an awful lot larger.

It’s also cast off some of the rather daft “problems” that MUD1 had which I actually recognize as endemic in my own “sample” MUDs for AMUL. You can, for example, “make” and then “unmake” a certain bed to score a few points. It’s a bit daft, and inconsistent with the rest of the world. My hunch: it’s just there do demonstrate simple state changes.

It was funny, on the one hand, to see myself reduced to angry road kill. But on the other it reminds me how I finally came to put down my wand in the first place. The buzz you get from playing MUD1 is a pure and simple gamble-rush. Your characters score/rank translates into a bounty for anyone who kills you, and their ability to kill you largely depends on house variables: how long since the last reset either of you logged in.

If the other guy logs in 5-10 minutes before you, chances are he will be armed to the teeth with all of the games’ weapons, and the magical devices which give him/her full on magic powers. Anything else they will have swamped to take out of the picture, and you’re just fodder.

On the other hand, if you log in and catch them unawares… They can theoretically PK you without touching you. Cause a player to die to an NPC and they are gone.

(My mistake was feeling bad about trashing all the newbie stuff, and I left the device that lets you force other players to do stuff lying around. Duh)

I had plenty of work to do after I’d lost my two characters, so I haven’t yet had time to really digest it, but I know that my time in the faded, yellowing world of MUD1 and still quite vibrant and friendly MUD2 have set the cogs turning.

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